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Gun control dates back to laws before and after the Civil War that prohibited or restricted African Americans from owning firearms, a group of black leaders said Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“History is [rife] with examples. There’s a direct correlation between gun control and black people control,” Stacy Swimp, president and CFO of the Frederick Douglass Society, said at the event.

Swimp compared the call for universal background checks for gun purchase to the time when blacks were required to register with the government.

“The first gun laws were put into place to register black folks, to make sure that they would know who we were – that we could not defend ourselves,” Swimp said.

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